Wauseon had all offseason to think about that fateful night last September, a night which saw them lose a share of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys soccer title in the closing seconds to Archbold. With the hope of winning the league title this year and Archbold — who has owned the league in recent memory — standing in their way, the Indians had more than enough motivation.
They put it to good use, tallying four goals in the first 40 minutes to Archbold’s one, then tacked on another after halftime for a 5-1 win at home over the Blue Streaks.
“We kind of had that on our mind throughout the whole summer,” said Wauseon coach Casey Elson, referring to last year’s defeat. “We just knew, you know we kind of lost the title with four seconds (to go). The seniors this year knew how big of a game this was and they knew how big of a win it is — just for our program. Because we haven’t really had a good program here in the past (few) years. And that’s really what we’re trying to work towards, is having that great program. And Archbold’s had it for such a long time. Such a respect towards that program.
“It’s a big win for us. Very big.”
It was the Wauseon freshmen who made their presence known in the first half, helping their squad to the big lead. The Indians got a pair of goals each from Benicio Torres and Gavin Gerig.
First it was Gerig finding the net from roughly 10 yards out at the 32:50 mark. Then, not quite five minutes later, Torres booted one from the top of the penalty area that slipped past Archbold goalkeeper Kenny Williams for a 2-0 Indian edge.
The third Wauseon goal came off a penalty kick when Eli Delgado was tripped up heading towards the goal. Torres converted the shot, and the Indians’ lead was 3-0 with 16:41 until halftime.
The Streaks responded with a PK of their own made by Trey Theobald with just under six minutes left, trimming the deficit to two goals. However, at the 3:05 mark, Gerig curled in a corner kick from the left corner and Wauseon reclaimed a three-goal advantage.
“Benicio Torres has really been a good midfielder for us. And has controlled the pace that we want to be at. And Gavin Gerig brings a whole other asset for speed for us on the sides that we really like to try to use as much as we can. Braden (Vajen), most of his goals have been really good touches towards the goal. So we really like what he brings (to) us as well,” said Elson on some of his impact freshmen.
Although they trailed 4-1 at the half, Archbold first-year coach Stewart Rodger was not displeased with the effort his boys showed.
“I thought we played a good first half,” he said. “We matched their energy. I thought we were committed. I was proud of the boys’ effort. It was just one or two individual little mistakes. Just one or two little things that didn’t quite go for us and Wauseon definitely punished us.”
The Streaks tightened things up considerably after halftime, only allowing one Wauseon goal. That score came with 13:27 to go when Zander Kesler put away a nice centering pass from Torres.
“We were trying to provide more depth in defense,” explained Rodger of his team’s second half adjustments. “Trying something a little bit new to try and nullify the threats we knew they (Wauseon) had. And, as I say, it was just those little individual mistakes. It wasn’t a bad performance by anybody. Just at the wrong moment maybe a misplaced header, or a missed tackle or something like that.”
On the other hand, Elson was encouraged by his defense limiting the number of high-quality shot attempts that keeper Easton Delgado had to encounter.
“Our main goal tonight, was we didn’t want any shots inside the 18 (yard line),” said the Wauseon mentor. “I told the defense that if we could do that, Easton’s one heck of a goalie for us. Hopefully this week he gets his 500th save. I said if we could keep them outside the 18 — all of their shots — I like Easton’s chances to save it for us.”
Wauseon (6-1, 2-0 NWOAL) hosts Toledo Central Catholic Thursday at 5 p.m. Archbold (3-3, 2-1) returns home to face Defiance on Saturday at 6 p.m.